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The invitation to condense poems, plays, novels short stories or films stimulated a large entry, but with many more potted poems and novels than plays or shrunken stories, plus a scattering of filed down films.

Among offerings slightly off-rubric were Stuart Blair’s summary of Hardy’s novels (‘Just when you think things can’t get any worse-/they do’) and le tout Jane (‘Mr Wrong turns into Mr Right /and Mr Right turns into Mr Wrong;/it’s the working out/ that takes so long.’) while Susan Clayson crammed nine plays by Shakespeare into sixteen lines. (‘Hamlet’s tale of blood and gore, set in Castle Elsinore, leaves bodies littering the floor.’)

With commiserations to them, thanks to all those who entered, and congratulations to the survivors, below, in historical order of composition or publication, are the entries that particularly tickled the adjudicator’s fancy this quarter.


Susan McLean: The Iliad

Achilles is a heel.
He pouts and ducks the fight.
His mom makes an appeal
to Zeus to set things right.
His friend fights in his stead
and dies. Achilles’ rages
won’t end till Hector’s dead.
It takes six hundred pages.

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Mae Scanlan: Dante’s Inferno

It's grisly and it's gory, but what a hell of a story!

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C.R. Edenhill: The Owl Song

Tom bears in logs, Dick blows, owl sings, Joan keels,
A red nose glows amid the ice;
The parson drones, all cough, their blood congeals;
The owl and Joan both do it twice.

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Bruce McGuffin: To His Coy Mistress

So listen girl, you're pretty hot
but time – we haven't got a lot.
When time runs out we'll both be dead
so get undressed and get in bed

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Joanna Bird: Pride And Prejudice

Elizabeth’s witty,
While Lydia’s naughty,
And Jane’s very pretty,
But Darcy is haughty.

Then Darcy saves Lydia
And Lizzie’s impressed.
His house makes her giddier
We all know the rest.

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Elizabeth Horrocks: The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian arrives like a wolf, and cohorted,
But God slays them all, so the rampage is thwarted.

Elizabeth Horrocks: The Lady of Shallot

She turns from her mirror to view Lancelot,
Then dies in a boat, and so that’s Shallot.

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Gail White: Jane Eyre

My boss is an attractive older man.
He touches me and my heart gives off static.
I'd love to tame him, and I think I can
Oh, damn! He's got a mad wife in the attic.

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Peter Fereday: Great Expectations

It’s the story of Pip - he’s a bit of a drip
But he falls for Estella. (Poor feller!)
She’s the girlfriend from hell; but then fate treats him well,
And he’s sort of a male Cinderella.
He’s a toff in the town, then her house is burnt down
And his fortune...? Events soon diminish it.
But the book rambles on till all interest has gone
So I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

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Brian Allgar: Jude the Obscure

Tricked into marriage by that Arabella,
I left to live in sin with cousin Sue.
We had two kids, until that little fella
Hanged himself, and killed the other two.

When Sue remarried Phillotson, I cried,
Got tricked again, re-wed that spiteful cat,
And everyone was miserable. I died.
Now, tell me, reader, what’s 'obscure' in that?

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Tracy Davidson: Thelma and Louise

A girly weekend
goes slightly over the top
and so do the girls.

Two sunflower heads